Nearly four weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, things only appear to be getting more complicated for Ukrainian pets and their rescuers. Constant shelling makes it near impossible for many citizens and their pets to flee and severely complicates the efforts of the animal rescuers on the ground.
Ukrainians are facing unimaginable circumstances as war continues to rage on their streets. Not only are the innocent people of Ukraine left to fight for their lives to find safety, but so are the animals and their dedicated rescuers.
It is estimated that over 3 million Ukrainians have fled to surrounding countries in the weeks since Russia invaded. Many citizens were allowed to bring their beloved pets along, but unfortunately, this was not the case for all.
Many citizens were either forced to leave their pets behind as they sought refuge or unable to make it back to their homes and grab their animals once the shelling began. Some Ukrainians even refused to leave the country without their animal companions, putting them in an impossible and potentially deadly situation.
Due to the devastating scenarios just mentioned, animal rescuers and organizations in Ukraine have jumped into action to protect the many animals and caretakers left behind. These brave individuals are doing it all, whether it is responding to desperate house calls or evacuating animals by the truckload.
Animal Rescue Kharkiv is just one of the many animal rescues that have made it their mission to save as many pets as possible. Even as the war tears apart the homes and families of their community, they continue their mission day in and day out.
“Our team decided before the war started that we will stay here and we will do the work and we won’t leave our city. We’ll continue working and helping the animals.” – Olga Ilyunina, Animal Rescue Kharkiv
Animal Rescue Kharkiv has been responding to desperate calls from families that were forced to leave behind their treasured pets. This involves going to the location, removing the pets from the home, and attempting to find temporary caregivers until a permanent solution is found. If they can’t find anyone that can take the pets in, they do it themselves.
“If no one responds, if no one can help the animal, we take it to our center or our volunteers and workers take them to their homes. Most of our workers have about 20 animals now.” – Olga Ilyunina, Animal Rescue Kharkiv
Unfortunately, even when the animals have been brought into the care of the rescue team, they are still not safe from the wrath of the deadly war. This was proven true when shelling struck the adoption center weeks ago, destroying multiple enclosures and killing five dogs.
“One bomb fell in our adoption center and it destroyed five enclosures and five dogs were killed. Some of them ran away and we are trying to find them.” – Olga Ilyunina, Animal Rescue Kharkiv
In addition to pulling dogs from the street and abandoned homes, rescuers and volunteers have delivered vital supplies to animal shelters. Some of these shelters house hundreds of dogs, each running low on the food and medical supplies their animals need to survive.
With roads being destroyed and Russian forces taking control of multiple areas, it has become near impossible to deliver aid to animals and people that need help. A dedicated volunteer named Anastasiia Yalanskaya was recently shot and killed as she attempted to bring food to a shelter near Kyiv, proving just how dangerous these missions have become.
“Some big shelters are on territory occupied by Russian soldiers. They won’t make it possible to transport food, water, and people. I can’t understand why Russian soldiers, who are also human, can’t make it possible to feed civilians and animals. They’ve done nothing wrong.” – Olga Spektor of Happy Paw.
When searching the ‘Ukrainian Animal Rescue Information’ group on Facebook, you can see just how desperate a situation so many people and animals are in around the country. The page is filled with pleas for assistance from pet owners and caretakers, with animal lovers around the world trying to offer as much help as possible.
As of today, multiple organizations are on the ground and attempting to evacuate as many animals as possible to surrounding countries like Poland and Romania. Clinics and shelters on the borders of these countries are filled with refugee pets, working tirelessly to save as many lives as possible.
The best way to help the pets and the rescuers of Ukraine is to either donate to organizations that are currently on the ground or to support the shelters and clinics that are taking in refugee pets. This can include donating funds, food, and supplies, and even transporting animals from the overcrowded shelters to make room for incoming animals.
There is no end in sight for the brutality occurring in Ukraine, so we send our love and support to anyone impacted by this unimaginable situation.